Jenny Craig's Dreams Ride on Chocolate Candy
Jenny Craig might taste victory at the Kentucky Derby this weekend -- but if she does, it's likely to be bittersweet.
That's because -- while the average person associates Jenny Craig with a weight-loss program -- horse racing fans know Jenny and her late husband, Sid, as long-time sports enthusiasts. They first got involved with racing by buying up successful horses from Argentina, and eventually began home-breeding their biggest winners in California. Like most owners and trainers, their dream was to win the Kentucky Derby.
The couple made their biggest splash in 1992, when Jenny gave Sid a $2.5 million present for his 60th birthday, a Kentucky Derby hopeful named Dr. Devious. (He ultimately finished 7th, but went on to win $1.4 million for them.) The forgotten part of that story -- until recently -- is that Jenny bought Sid a filly named Crownette as a part of that same gift, for a paltry $190,000. She wasn't nearly as successful as Dr. Devious at the track, earning only $184,488 in 19 total starts before the Craigs sent her to be a broodmare.
Fast forward 17 years, though, and Crownette is suddenly the best gift Jenny could've given Sid -- because the Craigs bred her to their biggest champion, Candy Ride (who went undefeated in all six of his careers starts, earning $749,149). That pairing gave them a chestnut colt they named Chocolate Candy. (Maybe CNBC will relax their cries to rename Chocolate Candy something more diet-friendly now that they understand the origins?)
When Chocolate Candy loads into gate 11 to run in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, he'll be the third horse to do it wearing the white and blue silks of the Craig Family Trust, but he'll be the first Craig homebred to wear them.
He'll also be the first hopeful Sid won't be there to see.
He lost a long battle with cancer at age 76 in July 2008, with Jenny by his bedside and his Derby dreams unfulfilled.
No one can say for certain what Jenny Craig will feel as she watches Chocolate Candy run, but we can imagine how much she'll feel her husband's absence -- it's clear she and Sid were an unstoppable team. And they certainly doted on each other; in her 2004 autobiography -- after 25 years of marriage -- she compared him to Jack Kennedy and Clark Gable, and wrote:
"I've learned that everyone has a soul mate somewhere, and if we're lucky enough to find them to share our life with, then we are more fortunate than most. I thank God every day for allowing me to find mine. Sid has enriched my life in more ways than I can count."So the No. 1 question on her mind right now must be: Can Chocolate Candy make Sid's ultimate dream come true?
He's won two races so far this year and finished second in his most recent outing, but he'll face stiff competition -- the Derby field is deep this year. Still, you wouldn't be crazy if you put a bet on him; he's likely to go off at 10-1 odds on race day (and if it rains in Louisville like it's supposed to on Saturday, watch out -- a source at the stable claims he loves the mud). The biggest knock against him is that he's never raced on dirt, but only on the Polytrack synthetic surfaces in California.
Luck has been on Chocolate Candy's side so far this Derby season -- but he'll have to be very, very good and very, very lucky to win. And Jenny just might have an extra trick up her sleeve: "I know Sid will be riding that horse along with the jockey." Win, place or show, it's going to be an emotional ride.